AMBER User Manual

AMBER User Manual
EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY
Organisation Européene pour des Recherches Astronomiques dans l’Hémisphère Austral
Europäische Organisation für astronomische Forschung in der südlichen Hemisphäre
ESO - European Southern Observatory
Karl-Schwarzschild Str. 2, D-85748 Garching bei München
Very Large Telescope
Paranal Science Operations
AMBER User Manual
Doc. No. VLT-MAN-ESO-15830-3522
Issue 83 , Date 03/09/2008
Prepared
A. Mérand
03/09/2008
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A. Kaufer
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O. Hainaut
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Change Record
Issue/Rev.
83
Date
Section/Parag. affected
2008-09-03 Various sections
1
Remarks
FINITO use
Limiting Magnitudes
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AMBER User Manual
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1 INTRODUCTION
1.1 Scope of this manual . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.2 What’s new in this issue of the AMBER User Manual?
1.3 Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.4 On the contents of the AMBER User Manual . . . . .
1.5 Contact Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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3 AMBER within the VLT interferometer
3.1 VLTI infrastructure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.2 Other VLT instruments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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Contents
2 Capabilities of the instrument
2.1 What measures AMBER? . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.2 Science accessible with the different observables
2.2.1 Absolute visibility V (f, λ) . . . . . . . .
2.2.2 Relative visibility V (f, λ)/V (f, λ0 ) . . .
2.2.3 Relative phase variation with wavelength
2.2.4 Closure phase and phase reconstruction .
2.3 AMBER characteristics . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4 AMBER overview
4.1 AMBER principle . . . . .
4.2 AMBER layout . . . . . .
4.2.1 Warm optics . . . .
4.2.2 Spectrograph . . .
4.2.3 Detector . . . . . .
4.2.4 Calibration unit . .
4.3 From images to visibilities
4.4 Instrument performances .
4.5 Instrumental contrast . . .
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5 Instrument features and problems to be aware of
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6 AMBER in P83
6.1 Service and Visitor Modes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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7 Preparing the observations
7.1 Choice of the VLTI configuration .
7.1.1 Telescopes . . . . . . . . . .
7.1.2 Baselines . . . . . . . . . . .
7.1.3 Coudé guiding with the UTs
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AMBER User Manual
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8 Introducing Observation Blocks (OBs)
8.1 Standard observation (OBS Std) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
8.1.1 Observing cycle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
8.2 Computing time overheads for added bands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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9 Bibliography
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10 Glossary
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11 Acronyms and Abbreviations
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7.2
7.1.4 Coudé guiding with the ATs . . . . .
7.1.5 Geometry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.1.6 Guaranteed time observation objects
7.1.7 Calibrator Stars . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.1.8 Field of View . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.1.9 Complex fields . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.1.10 Bright objects . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Choice of the AMBER configuration . . . .
7.2.1 Instrument set-up . . . . . . . . . . .
7.2.2 Observing modes . . . . . . . . . . .
7.2.3 Calibration cycle . . . . . . . . . . .
7.2.4 Calibrating the background emission
7.2.5 Standard calibration the instrumental
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visibility (Std)
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AMBER User Manual
1
VLT-MAN-ESO-15830-3522
1
INTRODUCTION
AMBER, the near-infrared/red focal instrument of the VLTI, operates in the J, H, and K
bands (ie 1.0 to 2.4 µm). The instrument has been designed to be used with two or three
beams, thus enabling also the use of closure phase techniques. The magnitude limits of AMBER are K=7 with Low Resolution (LR-HK) on UTs and K=5.1 on the ATs without the
external fringe tracker (FINITO). It is possible to reach K=7 (H=7) in LR-JHK and MR-K
and K=7 (H=6) in HR-K, for seeing better than 0.8 arcsec. FINITO on the ATs has been
offered since P80 and the current limiting magnitudes are K=5 in all modes i.e. for LR-KH,
MR-K and HR-K, for seeing less than 0.6 arcsec. Note that the medium and high resolution
modes are no longer offered without FINITO in standard mode. A waiver should be submitted if the proposal requires FINITO not to be used. See also this URL for the current
requirements:
http://www.eso.org/instruments/amber/inst/
1.1
Scope of this manual
This document summarizes the features and possibilities of the Astronomical Multi-BEam
combineR (AMBER) of the VLT, as it will be offered to astronomers for the six-month ESO
observation period number 83 (P83 ), running from October 1st 2008 to March 31st 2009. Only
the features that are supported by ESO for P83 are given in this document. The bold font
is used in the paragraphs of this document to put emphasis on the important facts regarding
AMBER in P83 and should be considered by the reader.
1.2
What’s new in this issue of the AMBER User Manual?
In P83 there are slight updates to the limiting magnitudes depending on the seeing conditions.
The user should consult the AMBER web pages at URL:
http://www.eso.org/instruments/amber/.
1.3
Acknowledgments
The editor thanks Fabien Malbet (LAOG, Grenoble) who delivered the document which
formed the first first version of this manual in February 2005. The editor also thanks Markus
Wittkowski at ESO-Garching for his comments and Stephane Brillant, Stan Stefl and JeanBaptiste Lebouquin, in Paranal for their comments.
1.4
On the contents of the AMBER User Manual
Section 2 of this manual is aimed at users who are not familiar with the AMBER instrument
and who are interested in an overview of its capabilities. Section 3 describes the AMBER
instrument within the VLTI framework, and section 4 provides the description of the
instrument: the instrument layout (Sect. 4.2), the expected performances (Sect. 4.4) and a
reference to instrument features to be kept in mind while planning the observations or reducing
the data (Sect. 5). It can be consulted by users who want to prepare an Observing Proposal
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(Phase I), but should definitively be read by those who have been granted observing time and
have to prepare their observations (Phase II). In Section 6 I present some added information
pertinent to observing with AMBER in P83 . Section 7 provides the basic information needed
to prepare a program: the configuration of the VLTI (Sect. 7.1), the identification of the
observing modes and of the standard settings (Sect. 7.2).
1.5
Contact Information
The aim of this manual is to make the users acquainted with the AMBER instrument before
writing proposals. In particular, sections 1, 2, 3, 4 and 4.3 are aimed at astronomers not
used to interferometric observations. This document is evolving continually and needs to be
updated and improved according to needs of the astronomers. All questions and suggestions
should be channeled through the ESO User Support Department (email:usd-help@eso.org
and homepage: http://www.eso.org/org/dmd/usg/).
The AMBER Home Page is found at the following URL:
http://www.eso.org/instruments/amber/.
Any user of the instrument should visit the web page on a regular basis to be informed about
the current instrument status and developments.
2
Capabilities of the instrument
What follows is not intended to be perfectly accurate from a mathematical point of view but
to remind what is accessible in practice. In principle the contrast and phase of the fringes
observed on a source with the given baseline B and wavelength λ yield the amplitude and
phase of the Fourier transform of the source brightness distribution at the spatial frequencies
f = B/λ. If this Fourier function is sufficiently sampled in the Fourier plane, then an inverse
Fourier transform yields a model independent reconstruction of the image of the object at the
wavelength λ with an angular resolution λ/Bmax .
Besides the sensitivity limits, two classes of problems make this imaging process quite difficult.
• First calibrating the measurements, i.e. deducing the object visibility and phase from
the fringes contrast and position.
• Second, making measurements at a sufficiently sampled Fourier plane can be timeconsuming.
This is why, although making images will actually be the goal of AMBER on the VLTI in
some cases, it is worth examining what kind of astrophysical information can be extracted
from any individual AMBER measurement for a given baseline configuration.
2.1
What measures AMBER?
AMBER is a beam combiner for up to three beams feeding the spectrograph and the camera
working in the near infrared from 1 to 2.5 microns. It is a single mode instrument, which
means that each baseline give access to only one point in the frequency space per spectral
channel. For this baseline, the instrument is designed to measure:
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– the absolute visibility in each spectral channel.
– the relative visibility, i.e. the ratio between the visibility in each spectral channel
and the visibility in a reference spectral channel (average of several other channels for
example).
– the phase difference, i.e. the difference between the phase in each spectral channel
and the phase in a reference channel. This is the main purpose of Differential Phase
observations.
– the closure phase when used with three beams.
for the following spectral resolutions: 35, 1500 and 12000 and a spectral coverage containing
the K, H and J bands.
The scope of this manual is limited to the measure and calibration of single (or triplets) (u, v)
points and do not address the use these measurements to constrain astrophysical models or
the image reconstruction process.
2.2
Science accessible with the different observables
Thanks to the combination of instrument performance, choice of baselines, closure phase
capability, and the photon-collecting power of the VLTI, a wide range of astronomical sources
can be targeted. What follows is a brief presentation of the major objectives, which are in no
way a full listing of all scientific possibilities of the instrument. Most of these objectives need
the PRIMA (astrometry, fringe stabilizer, and dual feed) facility or FINITO (fringe tracker)
to realise the objectives to their full extent, but even without these, AMBER will be able to
make great advances in several areas including the following ones:
• Hot extrasolar planets: Determination of planetary mass, orbital parameters and the
spectra of the planet and the star.
• Active Galactic Nuclei: to spatially resolve the Broad Line Region and to constrain
its geometry and kinematics. The ionized disks around the putative Massive Black
Hole can be studied to constrain its morphology, size, and, velocity and density field.
Measuring the wavelength dependence of the central point source, the shape and size of
circumnuclear dust structures as well as additional structures (e.g., the inner region of
jets, circumnuclear starburst regions, or bars) in order to test AGN models.
• Circumstellar material in hot/cold and young/old stars: Constraints on the size and
morphology of the disk, including velocity and density fields. Similarly, jets and bipolar
outflows can be studied, obtaining sizes, morphology, and, velocity and density fields.
• Binaries: Direct measurement of actual orbital motions, and the masses of the stars.
• Stellar structure: Measurements of the radius, ellipticity, surface activity, and, limbdarkening effects.
2.2.1
Absolute visibility V (f, λ)
If the source is bright or if a bright reference star is close enough, it is possible to obtain
an unbiased estimate of the source visibility amplitude from the fringe contrast. A visibility
AMBER User Manual
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4
measure for a single baseline can constrain the equivalent size of the source for an assumed
morphology. Visibility measures for several spatial frequencies (obtained through Earth rotation, different wavelength, different baseline) constrain severely the models. However the
interpretation of the results remains always model dependent. Different images can lead to
similar visibilities and discriminating between models usually requires measurements of high
accuracy.
In general, the phase of fringes cannot be related to the phase of the source Fourier transform
because of the atmospheric phase jitter. Only relative phase measurements are possible for
sufficiently close spectral bands. This can be extended to spectral bands further away using
a correct model of the atmospheric effects, but this is out of the scope of the standard data
reduction.
2.2.2
Relative visibility V (f, λ)/V (f, λ0 )
In some cases, one is interested in variations of the target spatial intensity distribution with
the wavelength. This is the case when observing a structure which is present in a spectral
line, whereas the continuum corresponds to an unresolved structure. One can then calibrate
the measurement in the line by those in the continuum and the knowledge of the absolute
visibility is not required, just the ratio between the visibility at a given wavelength and a
reference channel.
2.2.3
Relative phase variation with wavelength
If the instrument is operated simultaneously at different wavelengths, then one can measure
variations of the phase with the wavelength. The principle is exactly the same as in astrometry, except that the reference is the source itself at a given wavelength. The most remarkable
aspect of this phase variation is that it yields angular information on objects which can be
much smaller than the interferometer resolution limit. These features come from the possibility to measure accurately phase variations much smaller than 2π. When the object is non
resolved, the phase variation Φ(f, λ) − Φ(f, λ0 ) yields the variation with wavelength of the
object photocenter (λ) − (λ0 ). This photocenter variation is a powerful tool to constrain
the morphology and the kinematics of objects where spectral features result from large scale
(relatively to the scale of the source) spatial features. Note that if this is attempted over large
wavelength ranges the atmospheric effects have to be corrected in the data reduction.
2.2.4
Closure phase and phase reconstruction
If fringes are present at all three baselines and the fringes for all baselines are analyzed simultaneously, then we obtain a relation called closure phase. The closure phase relations are
independent from any antenna-based atmospheric or instrumental phase offsets affecting the
beams before arriving to the telescopes. If all spatial frequencies have their phases in partially
redundant closure phase relations, an iterative algorithm allows to compute all phases step by
step. Then it is therefore possible to reconstruct the image if the (u, v) plane is well filled or
to constrain the models if only some closure phases are available.
AMBER User Manual
2.3
VLT-MAN-ESO-15830-3522
5
AMBER characteristics
The main capabilities of AMBER are summarized in Table 1. It should be noted that the
Instrument Visibility Accuracy in the table only reflects the current status of the instrument
and is expected to improve in the coming periods.
3
AMBER within the VLT interferometer
3.1
VLTI infrastructure
AMBER is the final stage of an overall infrastructure. It is part of a VLTI well defined plan.
The general concept of the VLTI is to provide an interferometric focus to the instruments, like
modern telescopes provide almost diffraction-limited beams to their instruments. Therefore
the VLTI infrastructure works like a general facility which supplies the following functions:
- Sampling of the (u, v) plane with 4 fixed Unit Telescopes (UTs) and 4 movable Auxiliary
Telescopes (ATs) with baselines ranging from 8m to 200m.
- Collection of light with four 8 m Unit Telescopes (UTs) and four 1.8 m Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs).
- Wavefront correction at the telescopes: in the first phase adaptive optics for the UTs
(MACAO) and tip-tilt correction for the ATs (STRAP).
- Transportation of the primary and secondary beams from the telescopes to the focal lab.
- Compensation by the delay lines (DLs) of the optical path difference due to the sidereal
motion.
- Correction of the slow (<1 Hz) tip/tilt motion of the beams (caused by tunneling seeing
effects) by means of a fast detector sensing the beam motions and sending corrections
to the X-Y table so that the beams are kept centered on the optical axis (IRIS). IRIS
uses 25% of the K-band for the guiding.
- External fringe tracking with FINITO. This is available on both the UTs and the ATs
and allows AMBER to reach longer DITs as FINITO is freezing the fringes on the
detector. The advantage is twofold, first, in MR and HR modes it is always possible to
read out the full spectral range on the detector, secondly, the longer DITs allows going
much fainter than with the short DITs used without fringe tracking. The magnitude
limits are imposed by the FINITO fringe tracking limits. These are for most modes
(MR and HR) fainter than the standalone limits but there are constraints in airmass
and minimum visibility that are stricter than AMBER in standalone operation.
3.2
Other VLT instruments
AMBER yields information at scales between λ/B and λ/D. A single mode instrument
like AMBER has therefore no direct access to structures larger then λ/D. Like for radio
interferometer, one might need in certain cases information at small spatial frequencies in
order to inject it with the data collected with AMBER. The best-suited instruments that can
give access to these data are the NAOS/CONICA and SINFONI, which measure diffractionlimited images in the the same wavelength domain as AMBER. With NAOS/CONICA it is
AMBER User Manual
VLT-MAN-ESO-15830-3522
Table 1: AMBER characteristics and observing capabilities
Description
Specification
Number of beams
Spectral coverage
Spectral resolution in K
Two or Three
JHK (1 − 2.5 µm)
R ∼35
R ∼1500
R ∼12000
same as in K
0.8
9% (3σ)
2% in K
1% in J and H
1024 × 1024 detector array
11.37−
0.8
V (f, λ),
V (f, λ)/V (f, λ0 ),
Φ(f, λ) − Φ(f, λ0 ),
Φ123 (λ)
Spectral resolution in J & H
Instrument contrast
Visibility accuracy
Optical throughput
Detector size
Detector read-out noise
Detector quantum efficiency
Observables
6
AMBER User Manual
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Figure 1: Basic concept of AMBER: (1) multi axial beam combiner. (2) cylindrical optics.
(3) anamorphosed focal image with fringes. (4) ”long slit spectrograph”. (5) dispersed fringes
on 2D detector. (6) spatial filter with single mode optical fibers. (7) photometric beams.
possible to do both imaging and spectrography and SINFONI is unique in that it does full
field spectrography in a 3” by 3” field. Further information on these instruments can be found
at:
http://www.eso.org/instruments/naco.
and
http://www.eso.org/instruments/sinfoni.
The MIDI instrument is similar to AMBER but operates with two telescopes in the N-band.
AMBER and MIDI instruments use the same interferometric infrastructure, and many aspects
regarding observing preparation and scheduling are very similar. More information on MIDI
can be found at the following web address: http://www.eso.org/instruments/midi.
4
4.1
AMBER overview
AMBER principle
Figure 1 summarizes the key elements of the AMBER concept. AMBER has a multi axial
beam combiner. A set of collimated and parallel beams are focused by a common optical
element in a common Airy pattern which contains the fringes (-1- in Fig. 1). The output
baselines are in a non-redundant setup, i.e. the spacing between the beams is selected for
the Fourier transform of the fringe pattern to show separated fringe peaks at all wavelengths.
The Airy disk needs to be sampled by many pixels in the baseline direction (an average of
4 pixels in the narrowest fringe, i.e. at least 12 pixels in the baseline direction) while in the
other direction only one pixel is sufficient. To minimize detector noise each spectral channel
is concentrated in a single column of pixels (-3- in Fig. 1) by cylindrical optics (-2- in Fig. 1).
The fringes are dispersed by a standard ”long slit” spectrograph (-4- in Fig. 1) on a two
dimensional detector (-5- in Fig. 1). For work in the K band with resolutions up to 12 000 the
spectrograph must be cooled down to about -60◦ C with a cold slit in the image plane and a
cold pupil stop. In practice we found it simpler to cool it down to liquid nitrogen temperature.
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To produce high accuracy measurements, it is necessary to spatially filter the incoming beams
to force each one of them to contain only a single coherent mode. To be efficient, the spatial
filter must transmit at least 103 more light in the guided mode than in all the secondary modes.
For the kind of imperfect AO correction (Strehl ratios often <50%) available for the VLTI, the
single way to achieve such high filtering quality with decent light transmission is to use single
mode optical fibers (-6-in Fig. 1). The flux transmitted by each filter must be monitored in
real time in each spectral channel. This explains why a fraction of each beam is extracted
before the beam combiner and sent directly to the detector through a dispersive element (-7- in
Fig. 1). The instrument must also perform some beam ”cleaning” before entering the spatial
filter, such as correcting for the differential atmospheric refraction in the H and J bands or,
in some cases, eliminating one polarization.
4.2
AMBER layout
Figure 2 shows the global implementation of AMBER with the additional features needed by
the actual operation of the instrument. The user can find more detailed information
4.2.1
Warm optics
There are three spatial filters, one for each spectral band, because of the limited wavelength
range over which a fiber can remain single mode. The three spatial filter inputs are separated
by dichroic plates. For example the K band spatial filter (OPM-SFK) is fed by dichroic which
reflect wavelengths higher than 2 µm and transmit the H and J bands.
After the fiber outputs, a symmetric cascade of dichroics combines the different bands again,
but the output pupil in each band has a shape proportional to the central wavelength of the
band. Therefore the Airy disk and the fringes have the same size for all central wavelength.
This allows to use the same spectrograph achromatic optics for all bands and to have the same
sampling of all the central wavelengths.
Then the beams enter the cylindrical optics anamorphoser ”OPM-ANS” before entering the
spectrograph SPG through a periscope used to align the beam produced by the warm optics
and the spectrograph.
4.2.2
Spectrograph
The spectrograph has an image plane cold stop, a wheel with cold pupil masks for 2 or 3
telescopes. The separation between the interferometric and photometric beams is performed
in a pupil plane inside the spectrograph, after the image plane cold stop.
4.2.3
Detector
After dispersion, the spectrograph chamber sends the dispersed image on the detector chip
DET.
4.2.4
Calibration unit
The Calibration and Alignment Unit (OPM-CAU), contains all calibration lamps and can
emulate the VLTI in the integration, test and calibration phases. The matrix calibration
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Figure 3: Photography of AMBER at Paranal
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system (OPM-MCS) is set of plane parallel plates which can be introduced in the beam sent
by the OPM-CAU in order to introduce the λ/4 delays in one beam necessary to calibrate the
matrix of the ”pixel to visibility” linear relation.
Several components of the AMBER instrument, such as the dichroics, the fibers, the filters,
the beam splitter, the cryostat window are optimized for only one polarization. Then, the
other polarization will provide only a small gain in flux but can produce a substantial loss
in contrast. To avoid this, one polarization is eliminated by polarization filters (OPM-POL)
located on the AMBER table before the dichroics.
4.3
From images to visibilities
The raw data produced by AMBER are images of the overlap of the 3 beams dispersed by
a prism (LR) or grisms (MR and HR). Because of the beam splitter, one get in addition 3
photometric outputs corresponding to each beam. An image of the detector image is displayed
in Fig. 4.
The fringes are processed for each wavelength individually. In fact, three fringe systems are
present in the interferometric output, and, the first action consists in separating them apart.
During the calibration, the carrying wave corresponding to each baseline is recorded and the
interference term of the base ij is for the pixel k:
q
mij (k) = 2 Pi Pj (cij (k)Vij cos(Φij (k)) + dij (k)Vij sin(Φij (k)))
(1)
The quantities cij (k) and dij (k) are called the carrying waves and are displayed in Fig. 5.
These waves are in quadrature so that each pixel is sensitive to a complex number. Therefore
we can write the photometry subtracted interferogram icorr (k) as:
icorr (k) =
X
mij (k)
(2)
= M (k) × C
(3)
j>i
where C is a vector of the values (Rqij , Iij ) corresponding respectively to the real- and
imaginary-part of the correlated flux 2 Pi Pj Vij for all baselines and M (k) is a matrix with
the values of the carrying waves cij (k) and dij (k). The matrix M (k) is the so-called pixel-tovisibility matrix (P2VM). During calibration, one can measure the P2VM and then inverse it
so that for each pixel we get the visibility.
4.4
Instrument performances
The user should read the AMBER webpages (http://www.eso.org/instruments/amber/inst/)
for the latest information on the AMBER performance.
4.5
Instrumental contrast
The inherent instrumental contrast of AMBER is measured during the P2VM calibration
procedure that occurs every time that we change the spectral set-up of the instrument after
the fibers. The P2VM observation is automatically included in the standard templates and
thus requires no input or configuration by the observer. Please, read section 4.3 for an extensive
explanation of the use of the P2VM during data reduction.
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Instrument features and problems to be aware of
The AMBER instrument is not yet fully commissioned. The following caveats should be taken
into consideration:
• Vibrations have been found in the VLTI arm which have been partially fixed. Residual
vibrations may still exist in particular on the UTs.
• OPD model may not be completely optimized and time can be lost to find fringes in
particular in the LR mode.
• On the ATs and UTs FINITO is available and thus in all modes the full spectral range
can be read out on the detector. If due to airmass or other constraints FINITO cannot
be used then the spectral coverage can be severely limited to a dozen of pixels on the
UTs.
• Differential visibilities and phases (see sections 2.1 and 2.2.3) can be used.
• AMBER is a single-mode instrument and therefore the field of view is limited to the
Airy disk of each individual aperture, i.e. 250 mas for the ATs in K and 60 mas for the
UTs in K.
6
AMBER in P83
AMBER combines most of the aspects that usually exist independently in several astronomical
instruments. It involves visibility measurements (interferometry), spectral dispersion (spectroscopy), and background level corrections. Hence, AMBER in its final configuration will
feature a large number of modes selectable by the user. However, most of the modes are still
under development.
In P83 the only modes offered will be the High Resolution K band (HR-K), Medium Resolution
K band (MR-K) and the low resolution K and H bands (LR-HK), with a spectral resolution
λ/∆λ of approximately 12000, 1500 and 35, respectively.
In LR-HK mode, the K band will be acquired simultaneously with the H band. IRIS which is
always used is taking 25% of the K-band flux and H-band is sent undiminished to AMBER.
Note that if FINITO is used on the ATs then FINITO will use either 75% or 100% of the H
band flux.
Note that starting in P83 , FINITO is now part of the standard mode in HR-K and MR-K.
Any proposal asking not to use FINITO in these modes should properly explain the reason
why and require a waiver.
See the AMBER instrument webpage:
http://www.eso.org/instruments/amber/inst/
for the most recent information on the exact wavelength ranges and section 7.2.1 for the
configuration options for the spectrograph.
6.1
Service and Visitor Modes
For P83 , AMBER is offered in service mode and in visitor mode (see Sect. 10). During
all the period, the unique contact point at ESO for the user will be the User Support De-
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partment (email:usd-help@eso.org and homepage: http://www.eso.org/org/dmd/usg/).
The visitor mode is more likely to be offered for proposals requiring non-standard observation
procedures. The OPC will decide whether a proposal should be observed in SM or VM. As
for any other instrument, ESO reserves the right to transfer visitor programs to service and
vice-versa.
7
Preparing the observations
Submission of proposals for AMBER should be done through the ESOFORM. It is important
to carefully read the following information before submitting a proposal, as well as the ESOFORM user manual. The ESOFORM package can be downloaded from:
http://www.eso.org/observing/proposals/
Considering a target which has a scientific interest and for which AMBER could reveal interesting features, the first thing to do is to determine whether this target can be observed with
AMBER or not.
It is very important that special scheduling constraints such as the combination of different triplets within a certain time range or other time-critical aspects are entered in Box 13
’Scheduling Requirements’ and that the proposal is marked as time critical (see the ESOFORM
package for details).
At this point, AMBER is offered with conservative performance estimates. The details of the
current magnitude limits can be found at the AMBER instrument webpage:
http://www.eso.org/instruments/amber/inst/
7.1
7.1.1
Choice of the VLTI configuration
Telescopes
The available telescopes for AMBER are the 8 m Unit Telescopes (UTs) and the 1.8 m Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs). For detailed information on the UTs, ATs, and their active optics
subsystems please see Sections 7.1.3 and 7.1.4. What is important in the choice of telescopes is
the needed light collecting area and the baseline between the telescopes, and not the maximal
baseline across the mirror.
7.1.2
Baselines
For a list of the offered telescope configurations, please refer to the to the VLTI baseline page
at http://www.eso.org/paranal/insnews/vlti/. This page contains detailed information
about the baseline lengths, angles and available telescope triplets using the UTs or the ATs.
7.1.3
Coudé guiding with the UTs
Each UT is equipped with an adaptive optics system called MACAO. It consists of a Roddier
wavefront curvature analyzer using an array of 60 avalanche photodiodes. This analyzer applies
a shape correction on the M8 deformable mirror of the UT. The M8 is mounted on a tip-tilt
correction stage. In this case, the telescope is tracking in ”field stabilization” mode. In this
mode, the Nasmyth guide probe camera tracks on a selected guide star (observable within the
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30-arcmin Nasmyth FOV which is centered on the science target) by tip-tilting the M2. When
at limit, the M2 is offloaded to the alt-az axes of the telescope. The tip-tilt mount of the M8 is
offloaded by offsetting the Nasmyth guide probe position, and therefore by offsetting the M2
or the alt-az axes. The sensitivity of MACAO is V=16 for a 20% Strehl at 2.2µm (compared
to the 50% Strehl at V<12, at which the AMBER limiting magnitudes were estimated). In
practice with AMBER, MACAO can be used with V=17 with the limitations that reduced
Strehl will yield.
Note: There is also the additional constraint that the object should be fainter than V=1
for MACAO to work properly. The user should also be aware that Coudé guiding is not
guaranteed to work for objects with 15<V<17 and the user should preferably select another
guide star.
If the target to observed is fainter than V=17, it is possible to perform ”off-target Coudé
guiding”, provided a suitable guide star exists. This guide star must be brighter than V=17
and closer than 57.5 arcsec to the target to be observed with AMBER.
It should be clear that the fainter the Coudé guide star the less optimal correction on the science object ie. objects close the limiting magnitudes of AMBER should use bright (Vmag <13)
guide stars and not request seeing worse than 0.8”.
The effective correction done by MACAO drops with distance between the Coudé guide star
and the science object and under nominal weather conditions the effective limiting magnitude
drops by one magnitude for every 15” separation between the two stars.
There are also a few weather/external/observing condition constraints for proper MACAO
performance:
• Seeing < 1.5 arcsec.
• τ0 >1.5 ms.
• Airmass <2
These constraints do not affect Service observations as OBs are only classified as A or B
if MACAO has been performing within the tolerances. The constraints are given here for
Visitor mode observations to give the user the conditions under which MACAO will perform
as expected. Thus during non ideal weather conditions outside the MACAO performance
ranges the user could ameliorate the effects to some degree by only using brights guide stars
and only observe at high elevation.
Note that the constraints for using FINITO+AMBER on the UTs are much stricter. The
maximum distance is 15 arcsec and the Coudé guide star cannot be fainter than 13th magnitude
in V.
7.1.4
Coudé guiding with the ATs
Each AT is equipped with the tip-tilt corrector called STRAP. It consists of a avalanche
photodiode quadrant which measures the tip-tilt of the incoming wavefront. The measured
tip-tilt is compensated by acting on the M6 mobile mirror. When at the limit, M6 is offloaded
to the alt-az axes of the telescope. The sensitivity of STRAP on the ATs is Vmag =13. If the
target to observed is fainter than Vmag ∼13, it is possible to perform off target Coudé guiding,
provided a suitable guide star exists. This guide star must be brighter than Vmag ∼13 and
closer than 57.5 arcsec to the target to be observed with AMBER. If Vmag is fainter than 12,
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there is a risk that Coudé guiding cannot be performed, depending on the off-axis distance and
on the sky conditions (seeing, τ0 ). It should also be noted that the expected correction with
STRAP drops with distance between the science target and the Coudé guide star. Having
a Coudé off-axis guide star at the formal maximum off-axis distance will not allow AMBER
to reach the specified limiting magnitudes. Thus it is strongly recommended that the Coudé
guide star is brighter than Vmag ∼12 and as close as possible to the science target.
For proper AMBER+FINITO operation on the ATs the constraints for STRAP are much
stricter and the maximum distance is 15 arcsec and the Coudé guide star is brighter than
Vmag ∼11.
7.1.5
Geometry
Important parameters of the instrument to be taken into account for the preparation of the
observing schedule are the VLTI geometry during observation ((u, v) coverage). The selection
of the baseline requires the knowledge of both the geometry of the VLTI and of that of the
target. To assess observability of a target with VLTI, it is suggested to use the VisCalc software, as this is the only ESO supported software. The front-end of VisCalc is a comprehensive
web-based interface. VisCalc can be used from any browser from the URL:
http://www.eso.org/observing/etc. Since we had problems in service mode in the past
with over-resolved targets (which appeared resolved in imaging mode at the acquisition, or for
which no fringes were found), we encourage the user to collect as much information on their
target as possible, before submitting an AMBER proposal.
7.1.6
Guaranteed time observation objects
It is important to check any scientific target against the list of guaranteed time observation
(GTO) objects. This guaranteed time period covers the full P83 . To make sure that a target
has not been reserved already, the list of GTO objects can be downloaded from:
http://www.eso.org/observing/proposals/gto/amber/index.html
7.1.7
Calibrator Stars
High quality measurements require that the observer minimizes and calibrates the instrumental
losses of visibility. To get a correct calibration, the user should use appropriate calibrator
stars in terms of target proximity, calibrator magnitude and apparent diameter. In the case
of AMBER, the calibrator is observed after the science target, using the same templates. For
each science target, a calibrator star must be provided by the user with the submission of the
Phase2 material. To help the user to select a calibrator, a tool called ”CalVin” is provided by
ESO. CalVin can be used from any web browser. Like VisCalc, CalVin can be used on the
web from:
http://www.eso.org/observing/etc/
7.1.8
Field of View
AMBER is a single-mode instrument and therefore the field of view (FoV) is limited to the
Airy disk of each individual aperture, i.e. 250 mas for the ATs in K and 60 mas for the UTs
in K. For most observations this will not come into effect but can be limiting to observations
of objects that consists of several components e.g binaries, stars with disk and/or winds, etc.
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The observer should be aware that if the components are separated by more than the FoV,
only one of the components will be seen by AMBER.
7.1.9
Complex fields
For normal observations of single objects there are no special constraints on the seeing, it is sufficient that MACAO or STRAP are working within the normal constraints (see Sections 7.1.3
and 7.1.4). When observing complex fields with several objects within a few arcseconds the
situation is more complex. For fields with several objects within 1 to 3 arcseconds it is not
guaranteed that MACAO will perform properly. It is therefore recommended to use a guide
star in this situation.
For fields with objects with separations less than an arcsecond MACAO will resolve the objects down to ∼0.1-0.15 arcsec. Due to the way that light is injected into AMBER (injection
procedure only maximizes the flux injected into the fiber) it cannot be guaranteed in the case
of separations smaller than ∼0.3 arcsec that the proper target has been injected into the fiber.
These kinds of observations will have to follow a non-standard extensive procedure to perform
the injection adjustment and will require the presence of the PI (Visitor Mode).
7.1.10
Bright objects
In Low Resolution observations (LR) of very bright objects (Kmag < 0), the detector can
saturate even when using Neutral density filters during excellent weather conditions. The user
should consult the webpages for the latest information on the magnitude limits. If possible
the user should try to use the MR spectral configuration if the scientific goals still can be
achieved in this mode.
7.2
7.2.1
Choice of the AMBER configuration
Instrument set-up
The instrument set-up is defined by the spectral configuration of the instrument and the 3T
configuration. In each 3T configuration the spectral configuration can be:
– R = 35: 75% K band and 100% H band with IRIS guiding (Low HK).
– R = 1500: 75% K band in medium resolution with IRIS guiding (Medium K 1 2.1 and
Medium K 1 2.3).
– R = 12000: 75% K band in high resolution with IRIS guiding (High K X.XX).
On the ATs with or without FINITO the following modes are available:
– R = 35: 75% K band and 25% H band with IRIS guiding and FINITO fringe tracking
(Low HK), if FINITO is not used then 100% of the H band is sent to AMBER.
– R = 1500: 75% K band with IRIS guiding and FINITO fringe tracking in medium
resolution (Medium K 1 2.1 and Medium K 1 2.3).
– R = 12000: High resolution K-band observations with FINITO as an external fringe
tracker, where 25% of K band is used by IRIS.
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The details on the exact wavelength ranges, DITs, and central wavelengths available can be
found on the AMBER Instrument webpage (http://www.eso.org/instruments/amber/index.html).
Any change of the spectral configuration requires an internal calibration, i.e. spectral calibration and P2VM calibration. This is automatically taken care of by the internal calibration plan
and no action or setups are needed from the user. Note that only one spectral configuration
is allowed in one OB.
Any change of the neutral densities, the polarizes, the ADC, the position of the fiber heads,
i.e. all elements located before the spatial filters does not require internal calibrations. They
can be used or not depending on the source characteristics.
7.2.2
Observing modes
The situation is now more complex as FINITO the external fringe tracker is now available on
both the UTs and the ATs. Without FINITO either on the UTs or on the ATs the observing
mode is characterized by the detector integration time (DIT). Currently only fixed DITs of
25, 50, or 100 ms (ATs only) are offered using the UTs and ATs. With FINITO longer DITs
are available allowing in all spectral modes to read out the full spectral range. The user should
consult with the AMBER Instrumentation webpages for further information on the available
integration times.
7.2.3
Calibration cycle
7.2.4
Calibrating the background emission
It is necessary to measure the sky and the instrumental emission in order to subtract this
background to the science images. The procedure consists in observing a source free region.
This observation is performed with the same set-up as the science observation and close in
time (about 5 minutes) and is included in the estimated time for the science observation.
7.2.5
Standard calibration the instrumental visibility (Std)
It is necessary to determine the instrumental complex visibility that affects (multiplicatively)
the measured visibility. The procedure consists in observing a point-like source, or a target
which intrinsic visibility is known (the reference object has to be close to the science object).
This observation has to be performed with the same set-up as the science observation and
close in time.
The standard calibration plan for service mode observations includes a pair of one science
OB and one calibrator OB (sci-cal). Sequences of cal-sci-cal can be requested as a special
calibration requirement. The requested time should be corrected accordingly.
8
Introducing Observation Blocks (OBs)
For general VLT instruments, an Observation Block (OB) is a logical unit specifying
the telescope, instrument and detector parameters and actions needed to obtain a single
observation. It is the smallest schedulable entity which means that the execution of an OB
is normally not interrupted as soon as the target has been acquired. An OB is executed only
once; when identical observation sequences are required (e.g. repeated observations using the
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same instrument setting, but different targets), a series of OBs must be constructed. An OB
can contain only one target, but can contain several telescope offsets to measure the sky for
example.
In the case of interferometry instruments, the situation is a little bit different since we need
calibrator stars to assess the atmosphere + instrument system visibility (cf. Sect. 7.2.3).
Thus each science object OB should be accompanied by a calibrator OB. These OBs should
be identical in instrument setup, having only different target coordinates.
Moreover with single-telescope instruments, any OB can be performed during the night. In
the case of interferometric instrument, the instant of observation define the location of the
observation in the (u, v) plan.
8.1
Standard observation (OBS Std)
The same exposure cycle can be used for two or three telescopes (currently only three telescope
configurations are offered). The correction of instrumental biases is based on the use of a
reference star and the sequence of operations is as presented in Fig. 6.
8.1.1
Observing cycle
A standard observation with AMBER in P83 can be split in the several sub tasks:
1. Configuration: Setup of the desired spectral resolution, wavelength range and DIT.
2. Internal calibration of the chosen instrument configuration (P2VM) see sec. 4.2.4.
3. Acquisition: Slew telescopes to target position on sky, and slew the delay-lines to the
expected zero-OPD position and bring the DLs in ”tracking” state (pre-defined sidereal
trajectory).
(a) As stated in Secs 7.1.3 and 7.1.4, the user has the possibility to use a guide star
for the Coude systems, different from the target. He/she will have to indicate the
coordinates of this star, which, for the UTs should be brighter than V=17 and
fainter than V=1 and within a 1-arcmin radius from the science target. On the
ATs the limits are stricter where the object has to be brighter than V=13.
4. Injection Adjustment: Adjust telescope positions, so the beams from the target will
center on the injection fibers in AMBER.
5. Fringe Search: Search the optical path length (OPL) offset of the tracking delay-lines
yielding fringes on AMBER (actual zero-OPD), by OPD scans at different offsets. When
fringes are found the atmospheric piston is calculated and the OPL offsets corresponding
to zero-OPD are applied.
6. If FINITO is used the above step is performed by FINITO and not by AMBER.
7. Observations: Start to record data of interest with suitable DIT. In P83 it is foreseen
to only use DITs of 25 ms or 50 ms for standard absolute phase observations, and DITs
of 100 ms for differential phase observations. The longer DIT allows a larger wavelength
range in MR-K or HR-K observations.
8. If FINITO is used longer DITs are available.
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Computing time overheads for added bands
The user should assume that 70 minutes are required for one calibrated visibility point (ie, a
measurement of the science object and a measurement of an interferometric calibrator star).
This applies to LR-HK, and to Medium Resolution Observations (MR) or High Resolution
Modes (HR) for one spectral setting. Users interested in obtaining visibility measurements at
several spectral positions inside the K band should add 30 minutes for each additional spectral
band. Similarly if the user is interested to repeat the same spectral band to obtain more frames
with sufficient SNR then the user should add 30 minutes for each repeated spectral band. A
maximum of 3 bands per observation (i.e. per OB) is allowed. Users interested in obtaining an
additional calibrator observation (cal-sci-cal sequence) should add 35 minutes per sequence.
9
Bibliography
• Observing with the VLT Interferometer Les Houches Eurowinter School, Feb. 3-8, 2002;
Editors: Guy Perrin and Fabien Malbet; EAS publication Series, vol 6 (2003); EDP
Sciences - Paris.
• The Very Large Telescope Interferometer - Challenges for the Future, Astrophysics and
Space Science vol 286, editors: Paulo J.V. Garcia, Andreas Glindemann, Thomas Henning, Fabien Malbet; November 2003, ISBN 1-4020-1518-6.
• Observing with the VLT Interferometer, Wittkowski et al., March 2005, The Messenger
119, p14-17
• reference documents (templates, calibration plan, maintenance manual, science/technical
operation plan)
10
Glossary
Constraint Set (CS): List of requirements for the conditions of the observation that
is given inside an OB. OBs are only executed under this set of minimum conditions.
Observation Block (OB): An Observation Block is the smallest schedulable entity for
the VLT. It consists of a sequence of Templates. Usually, one Observation Block include
one target acquisition and one or several templates for exposures.
Observation Description (OD): A sequence of templates used to specify the observing sequences within one or more OBs.
Proposal Preparation and Submission (Phase-I): The Phase-I begins right after
the Call-for-Proposal (CfP) and ends at the deadline for CfP. During this period the
potential users are invited to prepare and submit scientific proposals. For more information,
http://www.eso.org/observing/proposals.index.html
Phase-II Proposal Preparation (P2PP): Once proposals have been approved by
the ESO Observation Program Committee (OPC), users are notified and the Phase-II
begins. In this phase, users are requested to prepare their accepted proposals in the
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form of OBs, and to submit them by Internet (in case of Service-mode). The software
tool used to build OBs is called the P2PP tool. It is distributed by ESO, and can be
installed on the personal computer of the user.
See http://www.eso.org/observing/p2pp/
Service Mode (SM): In Service Mode (opposite of the Visitor-Mode ), the observations
are carried out by the ESO Paranal Science-Operation staff (PSO) alone. Observations
can be done at any time during the period, depending on the CS given by the user. OBs
are put into a queue schedule in OT which later send OBs to the instrument.
Template: A template is a sequence of operations to be executed by the instrument.
The observation software of an instrument dispatches commands written in templates
not only to instrument modules that control its motors and the detector, but also to the
telescopes and VLTI sub-systems.
Template signature file (TSF): File which contains template input parameters.
Visitor Mode (VM): The classic observation mode. The user is on-site to supervise
his/her program execution.
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Acronyms and Abbreviations
AD:
AMBER:
AO:
AT:
CfP:
CS:
DI:
DIT:
DDL:
DL:
DRS:
ESO:
ETC:
FINITO:
FT:
IRIS:
LR:
MACAO:
MR:
MIDI:
MIR:
NDIT:
NIR:
OD:
OB:
OT:
OPC:
OPD:
OPL:
Phase-I:
P2PP:
QC:
REF:
SM:
SNR:
STRAP:
TBC:
TBD:
TSF:
UT:
VIMA:
VINCI:
VISA:
VLT:
VLTI:
VM:
Applicable document
Astronomical Multi-BEam Recombiner
Adaptive optics
Auxiliary telescope (1.8m)
Call for proposals
Constrain set
Differential Interferometry
Detector Integration Time
Differential Delay line
Delay line
Data Reduction Software
European Southern Observatory
Exposure Time Calculator
VLTI fringe tracker
Fringe tracker
InfraRed Image Stabiliser
Low Resolution
Multiple Application Curvature Adaptive Optics
Medium Resolution
MID-infrared Interferometric instrument
Mid-InfraRed [5-20 microns]
Number of individual Detector Integration
Near-InfraRed [1-5 microns]
Observation Description
Observation Block
Observation Toolkit
Observation Program Committee
Optical path difference
Optical path length
Proposal Preparation and Submission
Phase-II Proposal Preparation
Quality Control
Reference documents
Service Mode
Signal-to-noise ratio
System for Tip-tilt Removal with Avalanche Photo-diodes
To be confirmed
To be defined
Template Signature File
Unit telescope (8m)
VLTI Main Array (array of 4 UTs)
VLT INterferometric Commissioning Instrument
VLTI Sub Array (array of ATs)
Very Large Telescope
Very Large Telescope Interferometer
Visitor mode
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AMBER User Manual
VLT-MAN-ESO-15830-3522
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AMBER User Manual
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Figure 4: Image of the fringes recorded by AMBER in medium resolution around 2.1 microns
using an artificial light-source. The wide stripes are the photometric spectrum of the 3 beams
and the band with narrow stripes is the interferometric channel with the fringes.
AMBER User Manual
VLT-MAN-ESO-15830-3522
Figure 5: Example of carrying wave c(k) (solid green line) and d(k) (dashed red line).
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AMBER User Manual
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Figure 6: Standard observation mode (Std).
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